Are You a Chemo Patient or Are You Just Muslim?: Starting to Wear Hijab

I started writing about all the different questions that stem from my hijab - or the headscarf I wear, but I realized no one will read a 832 page long novel about a piece of fabric, so I decided to break up the questions I get into several posts as not to bore you. A Hijab Series, if you will. The title of this post nods to one of the times I went to WalMart and a concerned child, one cart in front of me in line, asked his mother why I had a scarf on my head.  She responded "honey, she has cancer," and smiled at me hoping I would nod my head approving her explanation.  Instead I stood there pretty shocked.  I explained it is related to my religion. No, I don't wear hijab to hide a bald head.  Yes, I'm "just" Muslim.


I will start with the first time I ever THOUGHT about hijab.  I was talking to one of my male Muslim friends and I was just starting to learn about Islam. I knew Muslim women wear hijab.  I watched Oprah! I was a girl of this century!

Also, you should know that at the time I was quite the hottie, I must say ;) especially soon before I converted I was looking PDG: Pretty Dayumm Good. I went tanning, I got my nails done, I straightened my hair every day, I wore full makeup to go to the gym, I got my teeth whitened, I only hung out with "pretty girls"...

I was very concerned with the way I looked.  And I looked pretty freaking good.

Then, my guy friend and I had this conversation about hijab after I saw a picture of his mother and his sister wearing it.  I immediately said:


(SIDENOTE: I shouldn't say NEVER, I once took a picture LONG before I was Muslim, just casually hanging out with a friend, and I jokingly wore niqqab.  It's my only appropriate "Throwback Thursday" picture I will ever be able to show... And, I'm thankful she dug it off her laptop and sent it to me!)

Regardless, I truly believed I would NEVERin my life cover my head with a scarf in public.  I couldn't imagine the thought! All of this pretty I worked so hard on would be meaningless! Who would like me if I wasn't pretty?!

He immediately said back to me "I can't wait to marry a woman who wears hijab... I think it's more attractive to know that there is something of my wife that ONLY I could see"

It creeped me out like I can't explain.  It actually made me nauseous.  When he said that I thought he was a total stereotypical, controlling crazy Arab guy... and I didn't want to talk to him.

About a month later, I remembered the conversation.  I was learning more and more about Islam every day and starting to understand how Muslims viewed modesty.  So, I was driving home from a long drive - from New York to Ohio - and I wrapped the scarf I had on my chest around my head.  And I took a picture.  And it felt so normal!

Now, to the people driving next to me who had seen me half of a mile back without a scarf on, I'm sure I looked like a nut.

But, really, honestly, truly, it felt so comfortable to me. I kept it on most of the ride, and took it off when I got back to where I may see someone I actually recognized.

So, a few weeks later, I started praying regularly, and I would wear hijab, of course.  And, I would notice, I wouldn't want to take it off after I was done praying.  Even when I was alone in my own house.  I was getting used to the idea of hijab.

I started meeting other hijabi friends and going to the masjid, and I would wear hijab to go talk about Islam in every capacity.  I didn't want to take it off when I'd leave.

Soon after, I officially took my shahada and became Muslim and the idea of wearing hijab was becoming more and more appealing every day.

I started a transition into wearing it.

First, no shirts showing cleavage or any "haram" body parts. Then, no short sleeves.  Then, only turtlenecks and long pants. And, eventually I was wrapped up pretty tight - like a burrito, I always say.

Some of my hijabi friends warned me against starting to wear the actual scarf-around-my-head hijab, though: They said that I wasn't going to like it, that it changes how people look at me, that I need to be 100% committed to it first, that I should SLOW DOWN. They were very protective of hijab, like they owned it

It scared me.  I started to think maybe I shouldn't wear it.  Maybe it's not the right thing for me. Maybe after I wear it permanently I'll want to take it off!

Then, just when I thought to myself I wasn't ready for it after all, I remembered:

I felt more comfortable with it on, than I did with it off.

So, on August 1st, the first day of Ramadan, I started wearing hijab full time.

I deleted all of my "cute" facebook pictures, blocked everyone who only liked me for how I looked, and became a real-life, scarf-wearing Muslim.

Over a year and a half later, I'm still going strong.